There’s no question that striving to maximize and maintain customer satisfaction should be a top priority for any business hoping to maximize and maintain a healthy bottom line. And yet, even though it seems like a no-brainer, many companies struggle to achieve that end. Even savvy corporate leaders who realize they should be taking proactive steps to nurture customer satisfaction sometimes struggle with putting together an effective action plan to do so. As a highly successful venture philanthropist and the real estate professional — not to mention an experienced mountaineer, explorer, and parent — Bo Parfet knows a thing or two (or, in this case, five) about the importance not only of creating a blueprint for continued customer satisfaction, but implementing those plans and also being able to adapt them to meet the changing variables every value-based enterprise is heir to.
Over the course of his storied career, Bo Parfet has synthesized five proven strategies to boost customer satisfaction. He advises an approach that harmoniously combines insightful data analysis, consistent product reliability, and fair pricing for value with managing two crucial human components — i.e., customer expectations and engagement — which are the prerequisites for keeping the customer satisfied and the bottom line burgeoning.
Bo Parfet’s First Rule of Customer Satisfaction: Know What the Metrics Numbers Say About Your Customers
When you’re just starting out in business, learning the lingo can be challenging. Your customer’s overall user experience — better known in business speak as “UX” — is the combined perception of how user-friendly your product or service is and how much satisfaction its use generates. UX is generally measured using a set of key performance indicators (a.k.a. “KPIS”). Collecting and analyzing critical KPI data and updating a business game plan when necessary is essential for a business to generate the highest possible return on investment (ROI).
That’s why Bo Parfet says business owners should think of the metrics of customer satisfaction as the barometer of their corporate ecosystem: By routinely reading and interpreting prevailing conditions, management can be prepared to take appropriate action to ensure their corporate vision and products consistently align with the needs of their customer base.
“Just like a Swiss (Army) knife, customer satisfaction metrics help you achieve multiple objectives — you can measure customer loyalty, identify at-risk customers, reduce churn (loss of customers measured over a specific time frame), and attract new customers in a crowded marketplace,” stated a Jan. 2023 post from the ProProfs helpdesk blog.
There are a number of metric categories (acquisitions metrics measure ROI on advertising and marketing efforts; activation metrics track the time it takes a customer from first contact to taking action; retention metrics measures repeat customers) that can offer valuable insights into a business, however, when assembling a customer satisfaction survey, Parfet says that for product data to be of value, managers must limit the scope of feedback to specific topics that center on UX. “Data is not the same as information — especially not data from consumer surveys,” cautioned the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). “Management decisions require information; raw data must be filtered in order to be useful for decision-making.”
Knowing which customer satisfaction questions to ask and then being able to parlay the responses into product adjustments is the key to using customer metrics effectively. The trick is to focus on strategically targeted metrics rather than broad scope. “Basic traffic metrics… are easy to track and give a good baseline on how your site is doing, but they are often not very useful for evaluating the impact of UX changes,” Google data visualization, UX, and data science consultant Kerry Rodden explained. “This is because they are very general and usually don’t relate directly to either the quality of the user experience or the goals of your project — it’s hard to make them actionable.” (Google’s HEART framework — which stands for happiness, engagement, adoption, retention — is a helpful tool for defining customer metrics specific to your business.)
Bo Parfet’s Second Rule of Customer Satisfaction: Heightening the Perception of Product Quality
Whether you’re manufacturing a car, producing a dietary supplement, or providing an editorial service, customers want to know they’re getting the most bang for their buck when they buy what you’re offering. Of course, much of the way in which consumers define a quality purchase is based on perception. To enhance a customer’s belief in the quality of their products/services, a business must not only offer reliability but also take a targeted approach that’s been tailored to their target consumers’ preferences (often as detailed by customer satisfaction metrics).
In fact, according to ACSI, when it comes to customer satisfaction, customizability was more likely to influence a buying decision than reliability alone. While a higher sticker price doesn’t necessarily equate to a better product, as those in the luxury market can attest, when consumers believe they’re purchasing something refined to their specific pleasure points, it justifies paying a premium price. Product quality is cited as a key factor in earning and maintaining customer satisfaction. The perception of quality builds trust in value for money, which often results in repeat business as well as beefing up recommendations that may ultimately build your brand.
Bo Parfet’s Third Rule of Customer Satisfaction: Customize the Perfect Price Point
As stated above, product quality is based on consumer perception; so, too, is the concept of a fair price. Customers want to feel good about how they spend their money, whether it’s for a bargain-bin mark-down or a high-end item they’re willing to pay top-dollar for. When customers feel prices are inflated or don’t reflect a product’s real value, they’ll be disinclined to purchase them and, worse, may actively discourage others from doing so as well. (The damage wreaked by a barrage of one-star reviews on Amazon or Angie can be devastating.)
It’s no surprise that arriving at the perfect price point can take some prestidigitation. “Pricing is not simply a matter of getting one key thing right. Proper pricing comes from carefully and consistently managing a myriad of issues,” wrote Harvard Business School Baker Foundation Professor Robert J. Dolan for a feature in the Sept.-Oct. 1995 edition of Harvard Business Review. “Pricing policy flows directly from the overall marketing strategy. This consistency, or even synergy, of price and the rest of the marketing mix, is a critical requirement for success.”
Parfet warns that thinking about pricing only in terms of product cost plus sufficient markup can be costly in the long run. When formulating the optimal price point, a company must first consider how the target market is going to value their product and, as much as is fiscally responsible, customize pricing — via discounts, bundling, early-purchase incentives, premium price points, and so on — in ways that support brand messaging and give consumers positive emotional reinforcement when they make a purchase.
Bo Parfet’s Fourth Rule of Customer Satisfaction: Manage Expectations
Although the old adage says, “The customer is always right,” sometimes they’re not. Dealing with negative reviews and complaints proactively is essential to customer satisfaction for several reasons. First, customers want the opportunity to make businesses aware of grievances and seek redress. They also want to feel as if their opinions matter to the companies they choose to do business with… because if they don’t, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere.
While ideally, a customer service representative or salesperson would be able to resolve any reasonable complaints, in the real world, that’s not always feasible, which often results in customer frustration. If such a scenario is allowed to persist without being properly addressed, customer disillusionment may eventually lead to a loss of repeat revenue and negative reviews that can impact future profits.
Listening respectfully to customer concerns and supplying reasonable explanations as to why a product or service has fallen short of expectations can go a long way toward defusing potentially volatile situations and keeping customers from jumping ship… which brings us to Bo Parfet’s penultimate rule.
Bo Parfet’s Fifth Rule of Customer Satisfaction: Encourage Customer Loyalty by Embracing Team Spirit
Paying attention to consumer feedback — good or bad — makes customers feel valued. Psychology is simple. Customers who feel valued by a company experience a sense of investment. Rather than being seen as a mere transaction on a corporate balance sheet, they feel they are part of a team. The relationship can become almost familial, and there are few things that inspire greater loyalty than being part of and contributing to the home team.
Bo Parfet believes that customer loyalty, while it may not always be something that can be directly measured in tangible metrics, pays dividends that definitely impact the bottom line. Maintaining lively paths of communication between a business and its customers not only feeds customer satisfaction but encourages creativity and enhances brand recognition, which in turn, has the potential to greatly expand your customer base and profit margin.